United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research, and Education

United Nations Ocean Conference
Plenary Session
NGO Intervention: The Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research, and Education
Date: Wednesday, 07 June 2017 (afternoon)
Thank you, and good afternoon co-presidents, distinguished heads of state and
governments, ministers, excellencies, delegates and colleagues, ladies and gentlemen.
I represent COARE, The Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research, and Education
I also speak today on behalf of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, Seventh
Generation Advisors, Plastic Pollution Coalition, Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation,
5 Gyres, and the Sustainable Oceans Alliance.
We would like to share with this body of leaders four main points:
The high seas represent two-thirds of our ocean, and almost one-half of our planet.
Because they are beyond the areas of national jurisdiction, often, the high seas are
thought of as belonging to nobody. In reality, they are a critical shared-resource that
belongs to EVERYbody.
Article 192 of UNCLOS stipulates that States have an OBLIGATION to protect and
preserve the marine environment, and our organizations agree that it is time for a high
seas treaty to protect two-thirds of the ocean.
Our organizations encourage all members here to join the International Alliance to
Combat Ocean Acidification: (https://www.oaalliance.org)
We ask for strengthening of the UN Oceans inter-agency mechanism in order to
promote greater integration of ocean policies and coordination between UN bodies with
ocean-related mandates. Just as the UNFCCC has provided leadership for climate
change, the solutions and policies that come out of this conference need permanent
And lastly, we have heard from speaker after speaker about the horrific problem of
plastic and marine pollution
Like many of you, our organizations call for reductions in the the amount of plastic
entering our waterways and oceans.
However, it is important to realize that this is not just a waste management problem;
it is – more simply put – a WASTE problem. The more plastic we create, the more we
have to clean. It is time to shift our focus and energy upstream, and, thus, our
organizations call for reductions in the volume of plastic being produced, and we
recommend the UN begin a process to establish target reductions within a specified time
This goal is in direct concert with
o SDG 6.6 for protection and restoration of water-related ecosystems;
o SDG 12.4 for sound management of chemicals and waste;
o and naturally, targets 14.1 and 14.2
We would also like to urge members, IGOs, and CSOs to consider carefully the rush to
alternatives. Please remember that bio-based and compostable plastics are STILL
plastic that, even if disposed as intended, may still alter the composition of our
environment and our oceans.
As His Excellency Peter Thompson, President of the General Assembly stated during
the opening of this conference. "The time has come for us to change our wrongful
It is time for us to re-examine our patterns of production and consumption, and it is time
for us to all, collectively and individually, to walk our talk and embody the change we
call for in others. This is a pivotal moment in our history, and I thank you all for your
2 COARE, plenary statement